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Relationship Education across the Community to support the family – Conference 2005

By Dave Percival

Day 1 - Themes and Programme

This second national conference, organised by the National Association of Community Family Trusts brought together policy makers, implementers and relationship educators from across the UK and beyond to explore both the need for, and best practice in, relationship education.

*** Date for 2006 Conference - February 7th & 8th 2006 ***

Day 1 – Key themes

The day exemplified the purpose and range of the conference, opening with a series of major keynote speakers examining the issues from a variety of perspectives from the courts and the political scene to the academic and major implementation initiatives. Harry Benson provided a compelling analysis of what actually works, and the workshops and introductory sessions provided clear examples of the wide variety of what is happening on the ground.

There were several important messages to be drawn from the first day:-

  • Concern and awareness is growing at the impact relationship breakdown is having on society. The problem is continuing to grow, and will do so for some years to come as the legacy of current broken relationships are transferred down the generations. The cost to society and the tax payer will continue to grow and create unsustainable pressure on public services. The future is worse than it is today.
  • The institutional and the relational framework of the family does make a real difference to the problem and its implications. Where couples commit to the lifelong and exclusive relationship of marriage they are significantly less likely to break up. There is a clear role for community leaders and services to support marriage.
  • There is real evidence that interventions in relationships can and do make a difference. Relationships in every area of life are vital – there are tools that can help build and sustain them. Spreading awareness and access has real resource implications for government.
  • Those concerned need to make the case more strongly at national level with government, through the academic channels and in national and local public services. We need to persuade them of the urgency to explore the best practices, to promote marriage, and to fund what works.

“The future is Relational” concluded the day.

Day 1 - Programme

Keynote speakers

Rt. Hon. Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss G.B.E:– The central importance of the relationship between the parents for children’s welfare

Professor Al Aynsley-Green:– Are there useful intervention with parents as couples which improve children’s outcomes?

Dr John Tripp: - A theoretical basis to assist behaviour change in relationships

Harry Benson: - What interventions strengthen family relationships? A review of the research based evidence. (Slides)

Annette Brooke – Children’s spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats

Catherine MacGruer, DfES:- The future strategic importance of children’s centres as a key access point to teach family relationship skills

Lynn Chesterman: - The important role of grandparents within the family

Theresa May – Family spokesperson for the Conservatives


Easily Transferable generic relationship education material – Exeter Community Family Trust

The pre-natal period – “a magical moment for intervention.” Use of midwives and the Registration service in hospitals. – One plus One

Running a family Law firm aimed at helping couples stay together rather than break up – FAINES, Exeter

Strengthening the couple and family through relationship education and mentoring to reduce re-offending – Time for Families

Introductory Presentations


Action for Prisoners Families

Care for the Family

Donor Conception Network

Family Matters Institute

Gender Identity Research and Education Society

Muslim Women’s Helpline

National Association of Community Family Trusts

National Couple Support network


Spring to Life

Woodley Project

Day 2 - Themes and Programme

In this article
- Day 1 - Themes and Programme
- Day 2 - Themes and Programme

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